Quiet on the set! The EU is negotiating trade deals

In January 2018, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told reporters that “transparency is essential to inform citizens about our trade policy and build trust in what we do”. In May 2017, the script was similar: “I am committed to ensure transparency and engagement in this as in all our negotiations,” Malmström said.

With a view to the EU-Japan trade deal (JEFTA), which is nearing ratification and could be on the EU Council agenda in April 2018, the Commissioner asserted: “Reports of all the latest negotiating rounds with Japan are available to read on our website and so are our new negotiating proposals”.

This claim is unfortunately false. The EU’s lead negotiator for the EU-Japan agreement was in Tokyo for negotiations in both June and October 2017, although the last round of negotiations had already been officially closed. Information about these visits is nowhere to be found on the EU Commission website. So much for commitments and promises... What is happening backstage when the EU negotiates trade deals? Are the actions behind the scenes in line with the official script?

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